Role Play: Lore spoilers and roleplaying
Contrary to the title, we’re not actually going to talk about the lore spoilers that are floating out there in this week’s roleplaying column. However, we’ve hit that part in the expansion reveal cycle where those spoilers are out there all over the place — and where it suddenly gets tempting to start taking all that new information and putting it into your roleplay. For some roleplayers, having new information offers a jolt to flagging motivation. For others, it’s a landmine of information you really didn’t want to know just yet. So how do you handle lore spoilers in roleplay, especially if those spoilers are pretty significant? Let’s talk about it.
And please, no story spoilers in the comments.
New expansions and lore spoilers
There’s a few different problems with using lore spoilers in your roleplay, but the first and most significant is this: What you’re seeing, what you’re reading about might not actually be true. At this point in the beta — and it’s not even a “beta” at this point, it’s being listed as an alpha — nothing is set in stone, and that includes plot content. Remember back in Cataclysm, when Rommath was supposed to be the Horde traitor? Never happened. Remember in the Warlords of Draenor beta, when Yrel and Maraad were actually involved and had a romance going on? Never happened.
And if you start taking this information into account when you’re roleplaying, and working your character’s story around events that have only been datamined, you’re going to be left in the lurch if any of these events are suddenly yanked from the alpha or beta and changed to something entirely different. Imagine in Cataclysm, roleplaying a character who is a spy. You see that datamined Rommath information, and decide to build a big storyline about how your character is investigating Rommath for treason. Instead of a big reveal where your character is some kind of brilliant mastermind, you get…nothing. You’ve invested all that time for no real gain, and your character probably looks a little silly.
On the one hand, hey, you can work that into your character’s story — maybe they get a reputation of being some kind of conspiracy theorist as a result. On the other, if you’d waited until all information was confirmed for release, you might have been able to fashion something that didn’t make your character look like the boy that cried wolf.
Spoilers and character development
If you do decide to go ahead and start working with some spoiler material, that’s great! But you want to remember one thing: Your character can’t see the future. You may have read the latest datamined info on the internet, but your character doesn’t have that luxury. The challenge with using spoiler information in roleplay is to come up with a story that eventually leads to that information. Steer your character in the direction they need to go, don’t just make them all-seeing. While it’s tempting to turn your character into a temporary prophet, it’s not really ideal in the long run.
Why? Pure mileage — if you use the supposition that your character knows nothing, you have far more material to work with. You’ve got the whole story leading up to the discovery of whatever pertinent information they want to work with, as well as the discovery itself, and the fallout from that discovery. If you simply give your character a premonition or a vision of the future, you’ve just axed a lot of potential roleplay for you and for your friends.
The point here isn’t to just blab all that new information, it’s to fold that information into your existing roleplay. It’s to use that information as a compass of sorts, a lighthouse to guide your character towards. In roleplay, it’s not really about the big reveal — it’s about the buildup to that reveal, and the fallout after that reveal occurs. The reveal itself? That’s maybe an hour or two worth of roleplay at best. But the buildup can be sustained and carried out over the course of weeks or months — the same goes for the fallout.
The other major concern about using lore spoilers in roleplay has nothing to with you, and everything to do with your friends. Maybe your friends don’t really want to know any spoiler information. Maybe they’re actively avoiding any kind of spoilers. If you start using spoilers in your roleplay, they aren’t going to be happy about it — in fact, they’re probably going to be a little angry with you. Given the fact that spoilers are already hard enough to avoid, adding the yourself on the list of “things to avoid if you don’t want spoilers” isn’t a good idea.
This also means that despite your best efforts, you’re actively working against yourself in that kind of scenario. Rather than finding some exciting new RP, you’re limiting just who will be willing to actually roleplay with you. If you’re okay with that, that’s fine — but most people prefer to keep their options open. Especially during the end of an expansion, when roleplay is slightly more difficult to find as is.
Before you go working any of this new information into your character’s development, have a conversation with the people you roleplay with. Ask them if they’re avoiding spoilers. Ask them if they’d mind if you incorporate some of that spoiler material into your roleplay. Get some feedback before you start trotting out the latest datamined information. It’s only polite — and the effort is likely to be appreciated.
While using spoilers to shape your roleplay might sound like a good idea, you want to make sure you’re considerate of those around you. And if you’re in a roleplaying guild, you want to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules. So if you’re in a guild, check with your guild leader to see if spoiler information is okay, or if it’s something they’d rather you not talk about. Similarly, if you’re a guild leader for a roleplaying guild, you may want to have a conversation with your members about spoiler material and whether or not it’s permitted. If you have members that are adamant about not wanting to hear or see any spoiler material, it’s best to come up with a solution before the spoilers get a chance to spin out of control.
Spoiler material can be fun — but only if people are willing to hear about it. Be considerate of your fellow roleplayers, and find a way to work with any new information in a way that keeps everyone satisfied until Legion rolls out for release.
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